Be a Doer, Not a Dreamer. Say Yes

In case you don’t know who Shonda Rhimes is, let me catch you up to speed.

She runs Thursday nights. Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder – they’re all her brainchildren.

She built her own production company and named it Shondaland. It sounds like a wonderful place full of dance parties and cookies.

She guest-starred on The Mindy Project.

She’s won countless awards for the trailblazing act of making tv casts appear more like the real world (plus killer script-writing).

But best of all, she’s built her career on the creation of lies – entertaining, envelope-pushing lies.

This woman has got it going on.

Who wouldn’t want to know how she got to the top, how she built her empire? When I heard she was writing a memoir, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

Year of Yes describes the aftermath of Shonda’s sudden realization of her misery, despite her outward appearance of a woman who has it all. After some internal digging for the source of this unhappiness, she comes to the conclusion that, at some point in her life, she just stopped saying yes.

And so she embarks upon a year of saying yes to everything that scares and challenges her. Shonda goes on Kimmel, she attends events at the White House, she makes a Dartmouth commencement speech, and she hosts charity events.

Dreams are for losers. Be a doer, not a dreamer.

She reveals it wasn’t easy for her.

I love when powerful women admit this. So many women at the top pretend like everything’s simple, just a well-organized balancing act. Why? It’s not true for me now, and I don’t even have kids yet. Women who put on this front have always confused me. What are they doing that I’m not? What’s the missing ingredient?

Shonda rips off the veil and digs into the conspiracy. She reveals the truth – It’s not easy. You can’t have it all. Life will be hard. You will make compromises and sacrifices and feel like shit about them. You will do the best you can and never feel like you’ve done well enough.

Shonda, how do you do it all?
The answer is this: I don’t

If Shonda Rhimes struggles and feels insecure, I feel a lot better about my own flaws and inability to “have it all.” Thank goodness us normals have more company.

Shonda led me through her year of yes, through every misstep and victory, offering tidbits of advice she picked up along the way – Don’t duck compliments and praise; say thank you and own your success. Stand like Wonder Woman. Take time to identify what you want, and then go after it.

One of my favorites? Saying no is another way of saying yes. Say no to toxic people in your life. Say no to doing favors you don’t have time for. Say no to the project you don’t want.

I’ve been on my own mission to say no more, and Shonda gives me the courage to keep making tiny steps forward with every little “no” I utter.

She ended with a fist-pump to all of her successes, her decision to keep saying yes and an ode to dance parties.

Self-help memoirs aren’t for everyone, but if you’re going to pick one up, I highly recommend you choose Year of Yes.

Oh, and I’ve never watched Grey’s, but after reading pages (literally, pages) of Shonda’s love for her character, Cristina Yang, it’s next on my Netflix binge list.

P.S. Only two books left to hit by 2015 goal of 36 books. Woot!

2 Comments
  • Brian Sirimaturos
    December 10, 2015

    I’m a big fan of Scandal and I had no idea she was behind all those other things. I’l have to add this to my list. Congrats on making it on your book goal for the year. I just realized I’m going to come up short on my books but that’s ok. I’m reading more than I used to and am enjoying pushing my boundaries.

    Love this:

    “One of my favorites? Saying no is another way of saying yes. Say no to toxic people in your life. Say no to doing favors you don’t have time for. Say no to the project you don’t want.”

    • Allison
      December 10, 2015

      Well, I still have to get through two more books to hit my goal, but I’m excited to be this close!

      Saying no is one of my new favorite powers!

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